In order to get beyond the election signs and the candidate profiles Abbotsford Today has put together a series of questions for candidates in the upcoming municipal election. We will be publishing answers provided by all those who participate.
What do you know about the way civic government operates?
PR I believe my experience of serving 7 terms on council has provided me with good familiarity.
AT Why did you decide to run?
PR I would hope that we are all running for essentially the same reason, that we love this community and want to be part of the team to help it thrive. That is certainly my motivation. But I believe I bring a particular expertise and knowledge base that is unique in my training with Leadership for Environment and Development International(LEAD) which would be of value to the team. LEAD was started by the Rockefeller Institute in New York to foster worldwide sustainability, promote a balance where economic, environmental and social needs are all given equal importance (rather than a non-sustainable “the fast buck is all that matters” kind of thinking). LEAD was a 2 year research and training program within Canada as well as working with countries from all over the world.
AT What does social responsibility mean to you as an elected city councilor?
PR In all my decision making, I try to equally consider the economic, social and environmental implications. Social responsibility includes taking the time to understand and help all members of the community, treat them with respect, compassion and try to improve their quality of life, health, ensure there are cultural opportunities that feed their soul.
AT What do you want to accomplish and how will you get it done?
PR There are a lot of things I want to accomplish, but I will stick with my top three. I would like to see the recommendations of the Homelessness Task Force implemented, in particular, I would like to see a low barrier facility with wrap around support built, as well as an ACT outreach team as quickly as possible. I would also like to see the city’s Sustainable community plan strengthened and action on it, particularly the concept of creating a “green economy” hub. We need to intentionally seek out green industries and businesses and aggressively convince them Abbotsford is the place to be. This is the new and rapidly growing economy that provides a good employment base, growing twice as fast as traditional sectors. Green economy jobs are those that work directly with policies, information, materials, technologies that contribute to minimizing environmental impact, investing in efforts to improve the environment and lower pollution. Thirdly, I intend to ensure that I continue to work aggressively to convince Metro Vancouver to abandon it’s plans to build polluting garbage incinerators.
AT What should the City of Abbotsford do with Abbotsford Center now that the Heat are gone?
PR We are now opening up the ice rink for use by the public, which it wasn’t previously. We now have more time availability to bring in more acts/performances. Yet, I would still like to see us investigate the advisability of another team there.
AT What should Abbotsford’s approach to homelessness be?
PR I support the recommendations of the Homeless Task Force, a multi pronged approach, working with local service agencies, Provincial and Federal Partners. Underlying it all, we must foster a culture of respect, inclusiveness and awareness regarding those who are homeless and at risk.
AT If elected what would you do about the law suits faced by the City of Abbotsford by members of the Abbotsford Chapter of the BC/Yukon Drug War Survivors through Pivot Legal Society?
PR I must decline to answer since they have a lawsuit with the city.
AT Abbotsford suffers from the highest unemployment in Western Canada and has for years. What would you do about that?
PR Please see my answer in question #4 above in regards to creating a “green economy” hub in Abbotsford. I would also add that in order to attract corporations here, we need to have a good quality of life, with lots of recreational opportunities. Corporations specifically look for that when looking at areas to locate because they want to ensure their workers are satisfied and they will be able to maintain this workforce. For instance, I just returned from Montgomery, Alabama to visit a Material Recovery Facility that can divert 85% of waste from landfill. The Mayor uses it as a selling point to attract corporations as evidence they care about the environment (corporations also have sustainability plans and want to know there is an environment to support those initiatives) and we are told that is working. I would further add though that for several years after amalgamation, we were named one of the fastest growing economies in Canada, so it hasn’t always been difficult, so I’m not sure how far back you mean when you say “it has been for years.”
AT How would you resolve the commercial truck parking issues here in Abbotsford?
PR This is an ongoing challenge which will require negotiation with local commercial truckers, while enforcing our bylaws.
AT Abbotsford has no animal control and care facility. Will you address this issue when elected and how will you do so?
PR We tried for several years to find land for a facility and couldn’t (not as easy as it might seem), so have partnered with the Fraser Valley Regional District to work with them to care for these animals. Although the facility is not in Abbotsford, it is nearby in Chilliwack and I believe it is well run and a caring facility. Even the Fraser Valley Regional District staff that oversee it are very caring people (the head of the department has even adopted a dog they couldn’t find a home for). There are people who are in Abbotsford on a regular basis to respond to complaints and find lost dogs, it’s just that our furry friends will be housed in Chilliwack. But I must take this opportunity to put in a plug for Elizabeth’s Wildlife Centre, which is in Abbotsford. She takes the smaller critters like birds, squirrels, raccoons, nurses them back to health and releases them back into the wild when they are ready. Abbotsford is the only member of the Fraser Valley Regional District that helps fund this important facility, even though this wildlife comes from all over the Fraser Valley (attempts to convince FVRD members otherwise have failed unfortunately). We fund it because we feel a responsibility as a society to care for these small animals, who’ve been displaced in part because of our development activities, to make way for the homes we all enjoy. I hope my colleagues will all vote to maintain that funding and perhaps convince other FVRD members to join us.
AT Is there anything we should have asked that would better demonstrate your value as a candidate?
PR I believe it is important to have a mix of experience and new. With my years on council I have developed skills in policy development, relationship building, advocacy and excellent relationships with other communities, which is important (as former Mayor George Ferguson often says “We are not an island unto ourselves.”). I have proven myself as a hard worker, dedicated to helping this community thrive and improve our quality of life.
Abbotsford Today has put together an extensive section on the 2014 Municipal Election. In addition candidates announcements, profiles and Q&A as well as news stories, columns and pieces contributed by candidates it includes:
Contact Your Candidates
List of Candidates
Municipal Election Guide
New Local Elections Legislation
The Municipal Election Guide is made up primarily of information and links from the City of Abbotsford’s extensive information section on the City website which provides all of the information you will require in order to exercise your franchise.